When Matt Cooke's skate cut through Erik Karlsson's Achilles tendon back in February, hockey fans and writers universally assumed that it meant the end to the defenseman's 2013 season. Shockingly, Karlsson has not only returned to practicing with his team, but he is reportedly ready to return as soon as Thursday when the Senators battle the Washington Capitals.
Karlsson's status against the Capitals is yet to be determined (He says he has a "slim chance"), but the fact we're even talking about the defenseman playing in a game this season is pretty remarkable.
Karlsson suffered a 70% cut to his Achilles tendon. If that sentence alone isn't enough to make you cringe, here's video of the hit.
Keep in mind that this gruesome injury happened in the middle of February. As we write this article it's April 24th, a little over two months after the injury and the following surgery. It's unfathomable that a man that had 70% of his Achilles tendon sliced is ready to return to NHL action, but that's evidently the case.
Imagine if you suffered this type of injury. Odds are you'd still be trying to hobble around the house at this stage, not trying to lace up the skates and compete in a sport that's as physically demanding as hockey. Simply, Karlsson's recovery has been almost a freak of nature.
For the Senators, this is a welcome and a surprising development. Karlsson is a huge asset, even if he isn't playing at 100%. Through his first 14 games prior to the injury, he tallied six goals and four assists. As the Senators continue to try and lock up a playoff spot in the East, the addition of Karlsson should provide a huge lift not only with his talent on the ice, but through the morale boost his return will give to the club as a whole.